Day 14 - Taking a Right Turn into a Lovely Surprise

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August 20th 2015
Published: August 28th 2015
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Ponderosa Campground in the Tonto National Forest was a lovely, quiet surprise. The ginormous signs warning of bear and rattlesnakes were a bit off-putting, but in the end nothing came of either. Not many folks - I suspect it is because schools are back in session and universities/colleges start next week. This is a great bonus to this stage of life - we are not constrained by the schedules of a youngster or the rigorous limitations of a school schedule. Enviably Bill could continue this trip indefinitely...

Today's drive is all downhill. What that translates to is driving from the cool to the hot. Driving south on HW-177 we spot a sign that has been on the road since the mid-60's but somehow we never noticed. Tonto National Monument. Being in no hurry to move from 90 degrees to 101 degrees we decide the right turn is a good idea.

What a delightful surprise. Home to the Salado people between 1250 and 1450 CE, this area includes 3 large cliff dwellings and has been the site of much activity over the last centuries. Not even a little out of the way with Roosevelt lake in view and fairly convenient to both Phoenix and Tucson this humble national park is magnificent. I would rate this park as a gem and we'll be back in cooler weather when the upper cliff dwellings are open.

If you are interested in the Salado people, take a look at this website:

In our own way, we have been meandering the trail of these ancients for the last two weeks. I feel blessed to have followed in their footsteps and I feel fortunate that (in spite of the NPS flaws) they are acting as excellent stewards for these treasures.


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